A guide on how to play grooves in 3/4 using a waltz style.
Make sure you've read through our lesson on Time Signatures before working through this lesson.
The time signature of 3/4 is essentially a bar of 4/4 with one crotchet beat removed. The main difference is that eighth notes are generally not grouped in fours, three groups of two is far more common.
There can be a lot of confusion between 3/4 and 6/8 as they both contain the same number of beats. The very important difference is that 3/4 is a simple time signature and 6/8 is a compound time signature. This means that in 3/4, and any other simple time signature, notes are grouped in blocks of quarter notes that are then subdivided into blocks of two eighth notes or four sixteenth notes. In 6/8, and all other compound time signatures, notes are grouped in blocks of dotted quarter notes that are subdivided into groups of three sixteenth notes or six sixteenth notes.
There are three main ways you will see 3/4 used. The first, which is covered briefly on this page, is in a waltz. A waltz is a dance in 3/4 where the accompanying instrument plays the root note of a chord on beat 1 followed by the higher notes on beat 3. If this is a style of music you aren't familiar have a look around youtube and plenty of pieces will come up.
The waltz pattern can be simulated on drums by playing a kick on beat 1 followed by snares on beats 2 and 3. Some examples of grooves in a waltz style are given below.
Notice in this example that the feet are emulating the waltz pattern also.
- Listen to some music in a the waltz style.
- Learn the grooves above up to a tempo of at least 130bpm.
- Think about fill construction in a 3/4 waltz.